This past weekend, I climbed up King Mountain in Gatineau Park (330m altitude) with my older son Vincent (age 11). I brought along the FT-817ND, my hand-held Arrow-style VHF/UHF antenna (6 elements on UHF, 3 elements on VHF), battery, morse code key, cables, tripod, etc.
The intent was to contact my friend VE2ASL, who is located 200 Km to the east. On 432MHz, Robert has a pair of K1FO beams at 15m height and 100W of output. On 144MHz, he has a long boom yagi at the same height and 100W. Prior to the meet, I did a radio link study between the two stations with the Radio-Mobile software (see my other blog entry on this matter).
The resulting profile is shown at the end of this blog entry. when looking at this profile image, King Mountain is on the left hand side, VE2ASL on the right hand side. It is clear by consulting the profile that there is no line-of-sight link between the two stations. We would then rely on mother nature to provide a bit of propagation enhancement. A combination of refraction and tropospheric enhancement usually does the trick. This is usually the case when we work while I operate from the QTH. Now from a mountain top, there was little doubt that with the slightest propagation enhancement I would be able to hear him, but would he hear me with my skinny 5 Watts of RF?
So I had scheduled a on-air meet with him. On Sunday, the weather was perfect and so the climb was an easy 20 minutes. We had agreed that 432MHz would be the easiest band to start with since both of us had more ERP (effective radiated power) on that band than on 144MHz. Noon sharp comes and I call him in CW on 432.125 MHz. He replies with a RST signal report of 459 QSB (fading). I give him a 559 QSB. It works! Soon after we agree to QSY (change frequency) to 144.225 MHz. Over there, we again contact each other. I give him a 579, he gives me a 559 QSB QRN, so he gets me but he has a S-5 level noise . Had he not had this much noise, we could have switched to Single Sideband (SSB) and carry on our QSO (radio contact).
Before I dismantle the station, I called CQ on 144.200 MHz, the official calling frequency, in Morse code (CW). I got a reply from VE3MLM in Peterborough Ontario, a 240 Km distance to the south-west. With Bob, I eventually switched to SSB and we completed the contact there. The signals were stronger with VE3MLM than they were with VE2ASL.
All in all, a very enjoyable experience. I admit that this mini-expedition was for most part an intent to motivate my son Vincent even more into learning electronics and ham radio. He is already learning Morse code and hanging around in the shack, so he is on his way...